What was your expectation of what Oregon would become when Coach Mario Cristobal took over as head coach? How different is it from nearly two years ago when his command of the Oregon program began? Consider what your vision of Oregon football was going to become in your fantasy (c’mon … we all do it), and ask yourself if that isn’t what Utah football has become? Isn’t it an interesting, if not a painful, bit of pondering to realize that the Utes have become precisely what many of us dreamed of for the Ducks?
What was my dream? I was hoping that Cristobal’s recruiting skills would bring a level of talent to Oregon that has rarely been seen in the past, and yet even more. It is evident that we are on that path, and I am grateful. The same is true for the culture built, and the hires of assistant coaches on the defensive side of the ball, as the Duck defense has some great days ahead of it. Oregon set some defensive records this year, and it is only the first year of installing the Andy Avalos 3-3-5 defense.
Utah has become the offensive example of what I hoped Oregon would become: a diverse Shotgun Spread offense that uses the athleticism of quarterback Tyler Huntley in the Zone Read, and yet is skillful in the passing game (over 70% completion rate) to keep the offense in balance. Throw in one of the best running backs in the nation in Zach Moss, and you begin to realize how much further Oregon has to go in recruiting and in the development of the offense.
The Utes have a reputation for being tough — isn’t that what Cristobal wants, too? Yet Utah has done it within the Shotgun Spread offense in an impressive way, and utilizes so much of the offense we witnessed at Oregon at the heyday of Duck football. What is most amazing to me is how well Andy Ludwig, an offensive coordinator many Oregon fans wanted to see leave Eugene 15 years ago, is running the Utah offense. Is the lesson for many of us that coaches can improve? (If you are willing to wait a decade or so … )
What do you Predict? What do you WANT?
I have not been shy in the comments below the articles this week, as I think Oregon is going to get their butt kicked in the Pac-12 Championship game. Utah has better overall talent at this juncture, and Kyle Whittingham is a savvy, experienced coach who will not make the same mistakes over and over that we see with the Ducks.
Could a butt-kicking end up being the best result for Oregon in terms of overall impact?
No, I don’t mean the obvious conclusion that it will wake Oregon’s offensive coaches up to their potential with the Shotgun Spread offense. (Although that would be nice!) I am referring to Oregon’s ultimate best prize for the 2019 football season: the Rose Bowl. For the Ducks to end up in Pasadena, the Utes would have to be selected into the playoffs and be the last of the four picked — Utah would have to beat Oregon in an impressive fashion. (You know … style points.)
That means a butt-kicking.
For a crazed Oregon fan whose love for the Ducks runs so deep — that has to be one of the most twisted conundrums ever experienced. We want the team to win, as the Rose Bowl is the goal, but a close loss sends the Ducks to the Alamo Bowl. How else do we get to face the champion of the Big Ten on January 1?
Yet the performances at Washington and USC by this team surprised all of us. Could that team beat Utah and get to the Rose Bowl through the front door?
Let’s reflect upon and discuss all of this before, during and after the game today, as …
“Oh how we love to ponder about our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo From Twitter
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
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